Thursday, 21 April 2011


Whilst out on the stump today in Newport West and Newport East (and Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr on Wednesday) there is plenty of evidence that the pledge made by the Plaid driven one Wales Government to construct 6,000 affordable homes has been well and truly achieved being driven through by Jocelyn Davies (AM), Plaid Minister for Housing. While obviously more needs to be done this has been a major step in the right direction, and a clear statement of intention and action to try to solve the problem of affordable housing which continues to affect every part of Wales.

Giving our housing stock a lower carbon footprint and lower energy costs is something that is particularly important, especially when it comes to developing affordable housing and refurbishing existing housing stock. The planning policy (which was brought in 2009) for Wales, with new building regulations lead the way towards zero-carbon buildings and should be touted as an example of getting it right.

Lets be realistic though, while reducing energy costs in particular, as zero-carbon housing will be cheaper and thus more affordable over its entire lifetime - is a good thing. In truth, it does not directly and immediately help the young people in our communities who can't get onto the Housing ladder, but the construction of 6,000 affordable homes in every part of Wales (including Monmouthshire) is a small but significant step in the right direction.

Good intentions may have undue consequences, after May 5th whatever hue of Government is on office in Cardiff, as we continue to either wobble our way further into or out of the recession what may happen is that the Government in Cardiff may come under sustained pressure from the building industry to relax the rules, water them down or delay implementing parts of them.

This certainly happened in 1997 when the New Labour Government almost entirely caved in to pressure from the Building industry, the problem of energy efficient homes or the lack of them in Wales is not something we can merely put off to help bail out a faltering building industry sector (which has made fat profits over the last decade) merely puts off the problems for another day.

Let's be brutally honest, short term thinking will not do and there is a real danger that there will be further pressure for short term budgetary savings made at a time when when government budgets are going to be cut, when there is less money to spare for incentives, grants and initiatives - this will come back to haunt us with a vengeance further down the line.

There is a real need for want of a better phrase joined up thinking, with the banks and the building societies needing to change their lending criteria for truly zero-carbon houses, as logically people paying less for their energy could be able to afford to pay more for their mortgages.

At the end of the day, this is a particularly good example of how the Plaid driven One Wales Government has thought differently and made a significant difference and is a positive step towards helping to solving the housing crisis as well as tackling one of the major issues facing the whole wide world. More of the same please! Think Different, Think Plaid, Vote plaid twice for a better Wales.

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